You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Finding Water’ tag.

I woke up the other morning thinking these two thoughts.  For me, this is another one of those elegant, but unlikely combinations.

Many times when we think of Perseverance, images are conjured of gritted teeth and clinched fists.  Stiff backs of determination to pursue, no matter what the weather.

Grace, on the other hand, evokes the feeling of moving easily.  It has a reflective quality.  A deep down assurance of Purpose.  Grace makes one think of charm and balance.  It’s got forgiveness all over it.  Seems so gentile next to Perseverance.  But the truth is, Grace may move delicately, but it continues to move.

Grace, I believe, is also the stuff that Miracles are made of.  Grace from the light of God fills Miracles and makes them shine brightly. Grace keeps the dazzling light going.

What if we use Grace with Perseverance?  When we add them together, we have far more powerful fuel.  With Grace by our side, we can keep going with ease, we can flow along willingly and with agility.  And a song in our hearts.

Julia Cameron’s book, “Finding Water” gives us a powerful but softer way to look at Perseverance.  She shows us that it can be a very spiritual tool in living our lives well and doing what we choose to do. With these two features working hand-in-hand, we can keep moving with ease and willingness.

It is, officially, NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month.  Though I think this is a noble endeavor, I haven’t yet been able to wrap my mind around the practicality of writing an entire novel in a month.  Being a strong believer in rewriting, I’m not sure I could do it.  However, I see the value in that even if one comes out with a hastily tossed together first draft, it’s a whole lot better than none.  Having something in the works can provide ample motivation to keep going.

But, alas, though I have a novel, it has taken me far more than a month to write it.  Started in the early 2000’s and put on a shelf somewhere mid-way through the decade, to make room for more practical writing assignments.  I’ve resuscitated it over the last year or so and making slow, but steady progress, through the monthly meetings with my blessed critique group. Giving much of my time to non-fiction writing these days, it’s not always easy to find time for fiction.  This constant attention keeps it in my life.

This is why I’ve set up my own National Novel Month (NANOMO)  exercise.  I’ve fashioned it to fit into my schedule and style.  My process is simple: Every day I must do something on the book.  It doesn’t matter how much. Some days I work on organizing the scattered papers. Another I might write a whole chapter.  I could take notes on what is to come or read a few pages of notes.  It’s okay if some days all I can do is think about it for a few minutes.  It doesn’t matter what I do or how much time I spend.  It’s about giving attention to it each and every day.

The point of this, as Julia Cameron says in Finding Water is, “it does add up.”  I plan for as much of the long Thanksgiving weekend as I can to work on it.  Last year, when I did this, I was raring to go by the end of the month!  My small efforts every day had built into a head of steam.  I dug in and got a whole lot done!

It’s a good lesson in perseverance.  Whatever you pay attention to adds up.  You can use this for all kinds of things like making money, improving your look, or getting into college.

I honor the Novel this month by choosing to give it my time every single day.

I’ve been asked to write a piece for an e-Newsletter called Follow Your Bliss.  The November issue is going to be about Courage.  So I thought I’d dive in and  explore it a bit.

Courage is an interesting trait.  It’s one of those qualities we come equipped with if we choose to engage it.  Much like imagination or forgiveness.

Many times we are courageous without knowing it. Like young people who can do things older folks wouldn’t.  Maybe too much knowledge and well honed images of what could happen scare some people. I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on CD.  Harry does brave things without thinking, “Gee, aren’t I courageous!” He just does what seems to be best to do in the moment.

Perhaps there’s a factor of trust in Courage.  If you trust everything will be okay, you’re more likely to go where others dare not.  There is a point beyond trust even where Courage becomes superfluous.  We might call it Faith.  In that place you have a deep sense that you are protected.  You just know what you’re doing is Right (or you don’t even think about whether or not it’s right or wrong) and that’s enough.

Courage keeps you a safe distance from fear.  A timid person is always afraid of something. Courageous ones lower that number significantly.

“Fear is the little mind killer,” we were taught in Dune.  It’s true.  Nothing shoots down more dreams and great deeds than fear. We might define Courage as the absence of fear.

“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty,” Merriam Webster says. The origin of the word is Heart.  I like that.  We might say a person with courage has heart.

Perseverance is an important quality. Julia Cameron wrote a book called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.” What good is anything you do if you give up at the first sign of struggle or fear?

Some may need to wield more courage than others.  But perhaps the more you use it, the less you need it.

I’m going to look for places in my life where I’m courageous without even knowing it. And when I start to feel scared or frustrated, I will engage my courage muscle and see what happens.

Some of my favorite spiritual teachers also happen to be writers who write about writing.

Brenda Ueland, who wrote, “If You Want to Write” in 1938, taught me that we are all creative and that it is not only acceptable to express your creativity, it is an act of faith and gratitude for God’s gift to all of us. Brenda, I believe, lived a dashing life. In her 30’s being a wild- haired, bold girl and remaining so well into her 80’s. She lived a good life, I believe, like Dan Fogelberg said of Georgia O’Keefe’s life – “a life lived so well.” Brenda was a teacher of young people in Minnesota who came from various social economic cultures. She had a way of seeing, acknowledging and drawing out their creativity.

Natalie Goldberg (in many books, but especially) in “Writing Down the Bones,” showed me that writing is a sacred act and needs to be practiced regularly, as one would do a spiritual practice, or training for a sport. Natalie taught me to put in the hours, get the words on paper and see how good it feels. She inspired me to create the daily habit of journalling. If I miss a day, I can feel it. If I miss two, I become out of sorts. By the third day, it behooves me to take the time I need to put pen to paper. (I’m too far gone at that point to just type.) With her loving use of Buddhist concepts to explain the art of writing, her teaching has become ingrained in me and infused with my spiritual growth.

Julia Cameron (in her works “The Artist’s Way” and “Finding Water”) has been in cahoots with Natalie Goldberg. I cannot say for sure who first came up with the “Morning Pages” as Julia calls them. I thank them both for helping me establish that essential in my life. Julia has done much to help me see that my writer is sensitive and needs lots of care and coaxing. The more of her I can acknowledge, the broader and finer my art will be.

Anne Lamott taught me what it means to be a writer, with all my wants and warts. That it’s not an easy road, but one well worth traveling, step by step. Her incredible book, “Bird By Bird,” brings writing down to its essence.

From all of them, I’ve found that the more I learn about myself, the deeper I quest into my own spiritual growth, the more connection I feel to the Divine, the better my life and my writing will be.

Krista was late.

I’d been there before, waiting for her. This was not the first time we’d worked together on such a project. Several years ago, we did Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” Though it took us a good deal longer than the prescribed 12 weeks, we got through it all. It was so good, we tried it again last winter, this time with Julia’s “Finding Water:” We had a good system then and moved through it efficiently. But this time, Krista had been in Mexico for a month and though we’d finally made a date, she was late.

Krista and I don’t agree on some very large issues like religion and politics. But we’ve found common ground in our spirituality, our humanity and our shared journey as women.

This year we’d elected to do Libby Gill’s beautiful book, “Traveling Hopefully. How to Lose Your Family Baggage and Jumpstart Your Life.” The book uses 5 steps to Jumpstart Your Life and 21 tools. The first step is to “Dissect Your Past So You Can Direct Your Future.” The first chapter, “Getting Past Your Past” gives us Tool #1, “Tagging Your Family Baggage.”

But, Krista hadn’t done her assignment. Luckily, the exercises in the first chapter were easy. The Family Baggage Questionnaire required only a yes or no, so she was able to answer the questions quickly. The instructions say that if you answer yes to five or more of the questions, you might want to “run your baggage through an X-ray machine to take a closer look at what’s inside.” We, who have worked so many programs like this before, each had 6 yes votes. In discussing it, we discovered a few more that might fit.

For the next exercise, to Tag your Baggage, I had made a chart to write in the Tag, a column to check Accept or Reject, and room to write an Emotional Response. Krista was able to use a blank chart and fill hers out as we talked about it. Sharing with her, led me to see maybe I had fantasized about a family I wish I had. I only have one brother, and we’ve always gotten along and loved each other, but there have been strained times and I do wish I had a better, maybe stronger relationship with him. I hadn’t realized that before. We found some of the tags, such as Stupid, Ugly, or Untalented, were implied, rather than said out loud.

I added a few tags of my own. My mother was from the Midwest and had a lot of colorful phrases, like namby-pamby. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I mustn’t be it. Instead of picky, she used the term persnickety. Seeing how I felt about these tags, showed me where I needed attention and affection. I found it interesting that the second time I did this exercise (having done it last Fall more casually) I had roughly the same list of tags, but a different emotional responses to them.

Tool #2, Unloading the Family Baggage and the exercise of “Applying Flip-side Logic to Your Family Baggage” started the process of healing. I’m thinking about taking my flipped bag tags and making a list of affirmations out of them, such as:

I’m discerning and I know what I like!

I love my bountiful imagination and enjoy it when I get excited about something!

My ability to talk has contributed to my skill as a writer!

Sometimes it’s a good thing to be selfish!

I don’t know when our next port of call will be. But I am not pushing the river (the next chapter), but taking my time. Good-bye for now. I’ve more postcards to send.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting these Travelogues of our journey on Wednesdays, so tune in for more.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 145 other subscribers

Positive Slant Categories